Favorite Christmas Traditions

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When Jenae from I Can Teach My Child invited me to share our family’s favorite Christmas traditions, I didn’t realize it would be a personal “Christmas Carol” reflective family moment of Christmas Past…without the Scrooge. Jenae, thank you for being an unexpected, early Christmas Angel in our lives;)

Here’s a peek into our personal Christmas Celebrations that have emerged over the past 15 years, refined in the last 8 years of being parents, and truly set in stone with our children’s input the past few years of their elementary ages.

Rule #1: No Christmas decorations or music until December 1st. Then, it’s game on.

Rule #2: The Christmas Decor gets put away on December 26th. My husband has a secret personal competition to see what number of tree he is at the tree dump spot. Last year he was 9th. It’s freeing, people. Freeing.

In our family’s 25 days of Christmas, we pour ourselves into our Christmas favs…

Rule #3 is crucial. No stress allowed. That means pace yourself. Prioritize. Pick a few crafts. No over scheduling. Say no thank you. Go digital with your Christmas card. And, keep playfulness front and center…ahem…

My favorite new addition is skipping long lines and latest toys to see Santa at a mall, and instead  we go to our local arboretum for a night focused on a beautiful luminary walk through the woods, where we also get a few “bring your own camera” minutes with Santa. Love that. Music. Hot Cider. Campfires. Creek. Lake. Waterfall. Trees. Lights. Peace. Love. Happy Families.

On Christmas Eve, after a nice-ish dinner, the kids open a family gift from us that we enjoy the rest of the evening. It may be a new board game, or Wii game, or my personal favorite was last year’s microphone. Five instant Christmas performers of songs, jokes, storytelling and reading Christmas stories. Testing 1..2…is this thing on?

Rule # 4: Not too many gifts. We give them 1 group gift. Santa gives them 1 or 2, plus stockings. No exchanges with aunts/uncles/cousins. The culprit is the 4 sets of grandparents! I think we finally have them each giving 1 gift now, but it took a few years and my mom refuses;) She gives 3 per kid. No way Santa will ever compete with their Mogie. Not a chance.

Rule # 5: The Reason for the Season. While we love to learn about all the different ways people celebrate the holidays, we personally teach our kids that Christmas is Jesus’s birthday party. We attend our Christmas church service where the kids bypass the usual rock wall and crafts for a special candlelit service with us. Perhaps our most important tradition (mentally insert The Drummer Boy song) is choosing a family gift “for Jesus”. One year we volunteered at a special church food packing day. Another time we placed an order from World Vision through my cousin’s non-profit organization. This year we are buying a few gifts from an Angel Tree Project at our school. The Jesus Gift is typically a 5 minute conversation, not a lecture. Serving others and honoring Jesus is a tradition that we hope the children realize is not yearly, but daily…through relationships, service, love and laughs.

All of that, and a little eggnog, makes our home a very happy, thankful, goofy place to be in December…well, always.

Wishing you each the merriest of Christmases and a peaceful, loving New Year! Shelisa

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